As winter covers most of the US in a big blanket of snow, it is just the right time of year to go check out the Albany Bulb. There’s a certain appeal to the sight of fresh, blooming springtime flowers covering tangled, rusty rebar and spray-painted construction debris. Or maybe I’ve just been watching too many of the post-apocalyptic movies that have come out recently. The Albany Bulb truly does inspire survivalist fantasies and visions of the post-human reclamation of urban landscapes–pick a clear day and bring your camera!
Located about 3.5 miles northwest of the Berkeley Campus (take the Buchanan exit off 80 and head west), The Albany Bulb was an active construction landfill until 1987 and is now part of the Eastshore State Park. It’s not marked on Google Maps, but you’ll recognize it if you follow the coastline up from Gilman until you see, well, a bulb extending into the bay. Take a nice, meandering walk (or ride) from the parking lot and you’ll be treated to breathtaking views of San Francisco and the bay as well as giant sculptures by local artists and graffiti-covered construction debris. Head leftish on the path to Mad Mark’s castle, then wander north along the shore to find large murals and amusing uses of the large chunks of concrete scattered throughout the island. On the north shore you’ll encounter huge sculptures by artists Osha Neumann and Jason De Antonis–I like to get to this part of the bulb by the late afternoon, so I can watch the sunset light up the city and the sculptures.
On any given day you will run into dog walkers, mountain bicyclists, anarchists, graffiti artists, photographers, and people who might rather not be disturbed. The east side of the bulb is where there are more permanent encampments and the dogs who guard this area are not particularly friendly. Stick to the well-trod paths and you’ll have a blast. I bet you didn’t think that the apocalypse could be this fun!
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